Middle East: Culture Shock for Europeans or Not

The lifestyles and traditions of people who live in the Middle East are quite different from the European and Western ones. After all, the Muslim and Christian faith are radically different. That is why people from foreign countries are often shocked when visiting Muslim countries. So what surprises foreigners about the Middle East the most?

Casinos are legal in some countries in the Middle East

Most tourists are sure that Muslims never play in casinos because gambling is not accepted in their faith. However, there are some exceptions.

Las Vegas is not the only city where gamblers can have fun taking chances. Although casinos are prohibited by law in most Middle East countries, tourists can enjoy betting at reputable gaming establishments in specific countries. 

Egypt is famous among tourists not only for the pyramids but also for the classy casinos. What is best, casinos are legal in Egypt. That is why, besides playing at Yukon Casino, some Muslim people visit real casinos in Egypt.

Male Dress

Americans and Europeans usually don’t wear traditional clothes. Foreign men and women wear casual clothes such as T-shirts and jeans. Therefore, foreigners are often surprised by the sophistication of Muslim clothing and awe-inspiring attitude towards culture.

The culture of clothing is deeply rooted in the countries of the Middle East. Most foreigners are surprised by the fact that in Muslim countries, not only women but also men wear traditional clothes. While women wear long loose dresses with shawls, men wear long white dress shirts called thobes and a headdress. Gutra is a hat made of rectangular cloth folded into a triangular shape and supported by a thin black cord. Men wear them almost all the time, especially at work. Moreover, foreigners are surprised by the fact that men rarely take off their gutras on the street.

  • Gender segregation

Foreigners are not used to gender segregation in everyday life. Thus, tourists and immigrants are very surprised when they realize that women and men can be separated in restaurants, transport, workplaces, and social events.

Although most women were shocked when they visited Muslim countries for the first time, they later admitted that communication with separated women was much more pleasant without the company of men.

One day, Joan White came to Great Britain to complete a work assignment. She faced gender segregation for the first time at the wedding of one of her Muslim colleagues. John White noted that spending time getting to know women who were segregated from men was much more fun. Moreover, she noted the beautiful clothes the women wore under their abayas.

  • Call to prayer

In shallowly religious countries, people do not practice prayer in everyday life. Most foreigners have never heard of the call to prayer, while most Muslims are used to hearing it every morning.

Tourists are usually surprised and even have a negative perception of loudspeakers in mosques calling for early prayer. Some tourists enjoy the morning call to prayer because it gives a taste of the culture. However, loud prayer calls in the morning annoy many tourists. A call to a prayer causes an absolute culture shock for all foreigners.


  • Climate

While most European and American countries have a moderate temperature, the countries of the Middle East have an excessively hot climate.

Because of this, tourists from countries with a temperate climate often get a culture shock from the high temperatures of Muslim countries. Foreigners cannot get used to having to adapt and change their lifestyle due to the heat.

  • Ramadan

People, who are not familiar with Islam, often don’t know anything about Ramadan and experience culture shock. Foreigners can hardly believe that during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims refuse food and water during the day. Tourists cannot get used to the fact that Muslims do not eat or drink in public during Ramadan.

It is believed that the complete rejection of simple human needs and even more excesses give Muslims the opportunity to confirm the strength of their faith, learn self-control, and contribute to spiritual purification.

It is difficult to get used to the fact that those who fast in Ramadan must observe inner purity and free themselves from thoughts, temptations, and actions that defile a person.